Offered by Brittany LaVoy, MD, FAAP
Cavities remain an important health problem for many children and develop in both “baby teeth” (primary teeth) and “adult teeth” (secondary teeth). So what can be done to prevent cavities for children of all ages?
First, a child should not use a bottle for drinking past the age of 12 months. Sippy cups should be used as much as possible starting at about 9 months as a bottle replacement. Bottles used at bedtime past 12 months are most likely to contribute to cavities as sugars and food particles sit on the teeth for hours while a child sleeps leading to cavities.
Sugary drinks (juice and soda) are also important causes of cavities as they lead to softening of the enamel of the teeth and make it easier for cavities to develop. If juice is given, it should be no more than about 1 cup a day and given only at mealtimes. Soda is not recommended in any amount for young children.
Starting with the first tooth, teeth should be cleaned twice a day. For very young children or when only a few teeth are present this can be done with a toothbrush or a clean wet towel. Once more teeth are present, a children’s toothbrush with a small amount of fluoride containing toothpaste (a smear for <3 yrs and pea sized amount for >3yrs) should be used. Parents should supervise and assist with teeth brushing until a child is shown to be able to brush all surfaces of teeth well (about age 6-8). Flossing should start about age 5yrs. Parents should always monitor teeth for any white or discolored areas on teeth which are often signs of a cavity. Children should start seeing a dentist regularly after about 1 year of age.
For further information please visit brightonpeds.com
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